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Holding Schools Accountable for Student Accidents

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For most counties in Texas, students went back to school in August. Teachers, parents, and kids of all ages likely geared up for the summer to fall transition for weeks.

Returning to school not only means getting back in the classroom, but also the return to playgrounds, gymnasiums, forms of travel, and sports. While recess and extracurricular activities are often referred to as the “fun” part of school for many, they are also the setting for the potential of numerous accidents and injuries.

According to research conducted by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC), an estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and younger sustain school related injuries each year.

Many of these unintentional injuries are often caused by negligence, such as lack of adequate teacher supervision or poorly maintained facilities. In fact, lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries.

Among elementary school students, playgrounds are associated with the majority of injuries, and for secondary school students, athletics — including both physical education classes and organized sports — account for most injuries.

School bus-related accidents, often involving child pedestrians, also account for many injuries.

Common causes of these accidents and injuries include:

  • Failure to regularly maintain school equipment and facilities
  • Failure to properly train school staff to supervise children and administer emergency first aid and CPR when necessary
  • Asphalt, concrete, grass, and soil surfaces under playground equipment, as opposed to loose-fill materials such as shredded rubber, mulch, and fine sand
  • Failure to ensure children play on age-appropriate playground equipment
  • Failure to use appropriate safety equipment for sports activities
  • Failure to group children according to skill level, size, and physical maturity, especially for contact sports
  • A school bus driver’s failure to see children attempting to enter or exit the bus
  • Other drivers’ failure to obey school bus stop signs

Too often, parents and teachers blame children’s injuries on children’s behavior rather than their surroundings; however, budget cuts and overcrowding in Texas schools may not only diminish the quality of education received by students, but also may affect the safety and integrity of the environment in which they learn and interact.

By holding schools accountable for student accidents, concerned parents can help ensure schools take proper measures to protect children from injuries in the future.

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